Most of us can probably admit we’re pretty overwhelmed with the amount of content we find when browsing the internet, visiting our social media pages and clicking through our inboxes.

Content really is everywhere, and it’s become almost exhausting when attempting to find a reliable source that serves you the content you’re actually interested in, when you’re interested.

So, with so much content, you’re probably wondering if it’s losing its impact. The short answer: no (if you’re doing it right, that is).

Content marketing can be an extremely powerful tool for businesses, especially when it comes to strategizing its role in your customer’s purchasing process.

Here is how to use content more effectively to influence your customers’ buying process.

First, Throw Away Your Sales Process.

I know, I know – this seems drastic. But let’s be honest with ourselves: we’re no longer in control of the sales process, our customers are.

So, instead of your sales process, think about your customers’ buying process – use their process to directly influence yours, and how you communicate with prospects and leads.

Where many businesses struggle is effectively transitioning a potential customer to the next phase of the sales process while keeping the customer comfortable and engaged. Consider a car dealer, for example. Many have plenty of quality leads, but opportunities are consistently lost somewhere in the process – whether it’s after the lead comes in for a test drive, after they receive a price, or even after submitting an inquiry through the dealer’s website.

One way or another, most businesses can relate to this scenario. So what’s the remedy? Well, this is where content comes in.

Integrating Content Into Your Sales Process

Particularly for businesses with a slightly longer sales process, there is much more of an opportunity for a lead to reconsider their need for your product or service, or question their confidence that your business can offer them a solution to their pain or problem.

To maintain their trust in your business and keep them engaged, we need to create the right content that’s going to continue building their assurance in your business, strengthen your relationship with the lead and position you as the clear choice to do business with. We also need to ensure we’re delivering this content at the right time during their buying process.

To begin, break down your customers’ typical buying process into main phases, as awareness, research, consideration and evaluation. For each phase begin mapping out the key pains your buyer experiences. What’s a common hesitation, problem or question they’re experiencing during this specific phase in the buying cycle?

Once you have your customers’ most common pains listed for each stage, start thinking about how you can help respond to these questions or problems with content that they’ll find supportive and useful.

For example, consider a lead in the very early stages of the buying process. They’re probably still conducting research to learn more about what they need. So, why not be the source that’s providing that information such as blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks or tipsheets?

Or, think about a lead who is now at the evaluation phase – they’ve heard your pitch and they’re getting close to the point of making a buying decision. This type of lead requires very different information than a new lead still in the researching phase. This is where validation content is critical, such as testimonials and case studies, offering the facts and material they need to feel confident in their decision.

No matter the phase your prospective buyer is in, if your content offers a solution and resource for a lead’s questions and pains, you’re not only building trust with this lead, but you’re also decreasing the chance they’ll reach out to your competition. Furthermore, you’re now gaining back some control in the sales process by offering content that is helpful and educational, yet tailored the actual products or services your business offers.

Feel like your content marketing strategy could use an overhaul? Download our Content Marketing eBook to learn the key benefits of content marketing and the four selling situations where content is most effective.